The first classics of the 2018 British Flat racing season, the Qipco 2000 Guineas and Qipco 1000 Guineas, will be staged at Newmarket’s historic Rowley Mile this weekend.
Klimt Right in 2000 Guineas Frame
It was back on March 26 that we published our ante-post analysis of the 2000 Guineas, and after seeing the various trials in Britain and Ireland we remain more than hopeful that our original advice of backing Aidan O’Brien’s GUSTAV KLIMT at 8/1 could not have been better. O’Brien won the great race 12 months ago with Churchill (see video below), his eighth success in the last 20 renewals of the 2000 Guineas.
Now a top priced 11/4 with Betfair, the Galileo half-brother to Group 1 winner Nayarra is the clear favourite having won last July’s Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and been very impressive when beating Dermot Weld’s well regarded Imaging by a length-and-three-quarters in the listed Ballylinch Stud 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on April 14 on his reappearance after an absence of nine months.
Ryan Moore, who partnered the winner that day but is expected to be on duty in America riding Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, was reportedly very pleased with the performance, as O’Brien confirmed:
“The ground was far from ideal but it was nice to get a run into Gustav Klimt as it’s a long time since he’d run and Ryan was very happy with him. Ryan said he was very impressed with how the horse quickened, especially on that ground, as he’s a real quick-ground horse. The plan is to go straight to Newmarket now, all being well.”
With a mainly dry forecast between now and the weekend, the chances are that the ground at HQ will dry out from the current ‘Good, Good to Soft in places’ and could possibly be closer to Good or Good to Firm by the time the field goes to post for the great race.
O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior, the winter favourite for the race after battling back to beat Roaring Lion in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October, is now available at 6/1 with bet365 and may well join his stable companion in the big race line-up, along with last season’s highest rated juvenile on the international classifications, US Navy Flag, a 20/1 shot with Boylesports after finishing fourth beating Gustav Klimt last month, beaten 15 lengths.
In our view Saxon Warrior looks more of a Derby horse, (he’s a clear 7/2 ante-post favourite for the Derby with Sportingbet), but it would not surprise to see him being outpaced at the bushes before finishing well in the closing stages over this stiff mile.
Charlie Appleby’s Masar (5/1 with Betfred) was visually impressive when landing the Group 3 Craven Stakes over the 2000 Guineas course and distance a few weeks ago, but the runner-up Roaring Lion (still engaged in Saturday’s race and as big as 16/1 with Sky Bet) was disappointing, and there’s a suspicion the winner may have been flattened by the nine-lengths winning margin. Nevertheless, he is a serious contender and shoudl ensure a strong gallop.
So too is Mark Johnston’s Elarqam (6/1 with BetStars) who reportedly impressed many present when producing a fine racecourse gallop at Newmarket recently. The son of the legendary Frankel is out of the 2004 1000 Guineas winner Attraction so is bred to win a classic and is unbeaten after two starts as a two-year-old, including a more than two length win over the useful Tip Two Win (40/1 with Bet Victor in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Expert Eye (16/1 with Ladbrokes) needs to improve on a rather laboured fourth in a blanket finish to the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury over seven furlongs, but he should strip fitter and will be suited by this longer race so is not without a chance, while the winner of that race James Garfield (20/1 with 10Bet) has a great attitude and looks sure to run a solid race. The feeling is however that he just lacks a touch of class at this level.
The dogs have been barking Without Parole (12/1 with Coral) for some time, and while John Gosden’s colt has to find a lot on the bare form of his Yarmouth win last week, he is reportedly well thought of by the great trainer so has to be respected. William Haggas’ AW listed winner Headway (25/1 with bet365), and unbeaten French challenger Wootton (see video below, 20/1 with Betfred) are also respected.
We still believe though that GUSTAV KLIMT is very much the one to beat and and wouldn’t swop him for anything else in the race.
UPDATE: Wootton was not declared at the five-day stage and won’t run
Happily Gets The Nod as September Misses 1000 Guineas
We were very happy with our selection September for Sunday’s 1000 Guineas, but an alarming market drift with some firms preceded the dreaded news that she was not among the five-day declarations on Monday afternoon. Quite why this smart filly misses the race remains to be seen, but it is a blow for fans of this potential star. Hopefully, she’ll pay us back later in the season.
Karl Burke’s smart Laurens (10/1 with BetBright) beat September by a nose in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile over the 1000 Guineas course and distance in October. The northern raider is very much respected and should give her supporters a very good run for their money being closely matched with our original selection (see video interview below).
HAPPILY (11/4 favourite with Betway) was sent off favourite but was hampered and finished last of 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ race in which September finished third, having previously looked a real star in winning Group 1’s in both France and Ireland on soft ground. In Ireland she battled bravely to beat Magical by a short-head (see video below). The full sister to dual English/Irish 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles appears to carry plenty of stable confidence, so despite nagging doubts about her if the ground gets quick, we feel she looks the one to beat now.
Godolphin’s Wild Illusion (8/1 with Coral) won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly on her last start last year and is greatly respected, while there has been a significant market move for another O’Brien-trained runner, I Can Fly, backed down from 20/1 to around 8/1 (with BetStars) following her reappearance third to Who’s Steph in heavy ground at Leopardstown a few weeks ago.
Soliloquy (8/1 with Paddy Power), a Charlie Appleby-trained stable companion of Wild Illusion, was an impressive winner of the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes a couple of weeks ago and has now been supplemented into the 1000 Guineas at a cost of £30,000. She looks a contender on the evidence of that authoritative success. Mick Channon’s Dan’s Dream (16/1 with Ladbrokes), part-owned by British sporting legends Sir Ian Botham and Sir Gareth Edwards, also impressed when springing a 10/1 surprise in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury recently. Roger Varian’s Altyn Orda (16/1 with William Hill), runner-up to Soliloquy at the Craven meeting, carries stable confidence as well.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.